Monthly Archives: February 2016

Season 4, Episode 05: Fear

Writer: Graham Yost
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: October 5, 1990

We’re back down to the normal running time with this episode. Huh.

44-01-Ernst-GriggsIn the cold open, Mr. Ernst is meeting with an insurance guy, Mr. Griggs. Mr. Griggs chastises Mr. Ernst for waiting until the last minute to renew his insurance premium (which is up at 5:00 PM today).

Mr. Griggs is played by Johnny Greenwood. “Hey Dude” was his final of three acting gigs in a very sporadic career that started with a film role in 1973, which was followed by a role in an episode of a French(!) TV series in 1981. He also appeared as himself in an episode of “Della” as far back as 1970. This seems very odd, which makes me question IMDb’s info.

Mr. Ernst’s lame-ass excuse is he thought all of the notices that they’d sent out were from Ed McMahon (of the American Family Publishers sweepstakes). Dumbass. How the fuck do you make a mistake like that? Repeatedly?

Mr. Ernst is upset at the huge increase in the Bar None’s premiums. Mr. Griggs is all matter-of-fact about it.

44-02-Jake-windowJake interrupts to ask Mr. Ernst if he could use the lodge for Mondo Courage, his new workshop on how to conquer your fears. Mr. Ernst gives him permission.

44-03-Ernst-obliviousMr. Ernst and Mr. Griggs discuss the increase, which comes down to the threat of litigation. Mr. Ernst also mentions nothing bad has happened “all year”, which is more evidence that this is a later summer than the beginning of the series, since Danny was in an accident on Bar None property in “Pain in the Neck” (season 1, episode 13).

44-04-Griggs-noticesMr. Griggs points out a woman swinging by Mr. Ernst’s window (hilariously, after he tells Mr. Ernst that “all risk must be minimized”). This is Mrs. Parker. Mr. Ernst does that sitcom trope where he initially doesn’t think anything strange about the situation, only to suddenly realize it after trying to carry on a conversation. Mrs. Parker screams for help, and I think we’re meant to assume she pulls Mr. Ernst out his window, but maybe he just falls out. Anyway, haha, because it happened in front of the insurance guy, get it? Mr. Ernst screams for Jake, and Mr. Griggs rushes outside.

44-05-ParkersAfter the credits, Mr. Ernst chews Jake out for not being specific in his intentions and then using the widest possible interpretation.

Mrs. Parker is played by Barbara Lamm. This is her second of two appearances. She had previously appeared in “They’re Back” (season 4, episode 01) as an unnamed guest (the one that complained to Melody after Lonnie made her uncomfortable), which might as well be the same character.

Mr. Parker is played by Charles DiPinto. This is his second of two appearances. He had previously appeared in “The Bad Seed” (season 3, episode 12) as Mr. Hardy, the guest that tried to get Jake to splash him.

44-06-KyleOh, look who shows up after a three-episode absence. Work that background, Kyle.

Anyway, Mr. Ernst says he almost lost his insurance coverage over this (Jake’s stunt, not Kyle’s presence) and puts an end to Mondo Courage. Jake explains they already paid, which gets Mr. Ernst’s attention. Jake explains Mrs. Parker is afraid of heights, and Mr. Parker is afraid of Mrs. Parker. Mr. Ernst lets Jake continue as long as they aren’t more than one foot off the ground.

44-07-Jake-Griggs-ErnstMr. Griggs comes by, and Mr. Ernst covers for Jake’s stunt. Mr. Ernst sends Jake away and asks Mr. Griggs about lowering the premiums. After some back and forth, Mr. Ernst agrees to do the following by 5:00 PM today: add some more lights, some more sprinklers, and a few more fire extinguishers. However, he’ll also have to close the pool, because he has only one employee with a life-saving certificate, Melody, who’s not at the pool all of the time; if something happens when she’s not there, the lawsuit would be “terrifying”. After some more back and forth, Mr. Ernst agrees to have “all of [his] employees” pass a life-saving proficiency test by 5:00 PM. If that happens, Mr. Griggs could “swing something”: lower the premium and “possibly” keep the pool open. Mr. Griggs will be supervising the training/testing. I call bullshit on this for three reasons. First, it’s not necessary for all of the employees to be certified lifeguards, only the ones that get assigned to pool duty. I’d say four would be enough to have one person at the pool at a time during daylight hours, and not everyone would have to do a pool shift every day. Second, an insurance guy isn’t qualified to administer life-saving tests and issue certifications (unless Mr. Griggs has a background in that, which is never indicated). Third, I’m pretty sure that the insurance guy that’s working on the Bar None’s insurance premiums also administering tests with the end goal being the lowering of those premiums is a conflict of interest. But Mr. Ernst has Mr. Griggs meet him at the pool in fifteen minutes and then calls out for Melody.

44-08-poolAt the pool, Melody wants to get started.

44-09-girlsBrad asks Melody if she has to go in the water. Misinterpreting Brad’s dumb question, Melody says she has a special shampoo that takes the chlorine right out.

44-10-lining-upMelody has everyone line up, so she can assign partners. Kyle asks about doing mouth-to-mouth. Melody confirms it.

44-11-switchingCue gay panic and fighting over who gets to be Brad’s partner. Kyle ends up standing next to her, but what does the line-up order matter? Melody said she’s assigning the partners. Kyle flirts with Brad about doing mouth-to-mouth and saving Brad’s life “in more ways than one”, and I so did not miss this fuckhead.

44-12-Brad-pushes-KyleBrad tells Kyle to get a life and pushes him into the pool. Good. Melody tells everyone to get serious.

44-13-Ernst-gatorAs if on cue, Mr. Ernst shows up with a large, inflatable alligator crocodile, which he intends to use as a flotation device (which isn’t allowed), even though it’s a standard warning to not use pool/beach toys as flotation devices.

Melody pairs Mr. Ernst with Jake. To reiterate, Melody has placed her boss in a situation where he and his nephew will perform mouth-to-mouth on each other, which I’m sure will go over well for her. Keep in mind that the girls’ bunk house contains novels written by an author that wrote graphic incestuous sex scenes.

Kyle wants Danny to trade places with him, Danny refuses, and again what does it matter?

Melody partners Jodie with Steve. Okay, so these are the names of the two extras’ characters.

Jodie seems to be one of the girls that was on the Bar None Brawlers baseball team in “Dueling Ranches” (season 3, episode 07):

33-38-Brawlers-anthem…who is also the girl from “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (season 3, episode 09):

35-22-female-staffer…who is also the girl from “Magnum Ernst” (season 4, episode 03):

42-28-Dibble-insultsOne of the credited Brawlers girls in “Dueling Ranches” was Jodie Hurley, so this is obviously her.

33-23-BrawlersSteve was also one of the Bar None Brawlers, played by Steve Johnson.

Neither actor has been credited since that episode.

Melody partners Buddy with Kyle and Brad with Danny. She gets them pumped up and takes the crocodile away from Mr. Ernst.

Before we move on to the next scene, I just want to call attention to the fact that this is nowhere near all of Mr. Ernst’s employees. Where’s Betty? Dini? Steve’s sister, Lauri? The chef (either of them)? The wranglers? LUCY?!

44-14-Kyle-jumpsMelody judges Kyle’s jump.

44-15-Buddy-throwsBuddy fails to throw a life preserver into the pool.

44-16-Buddy-fallsHe gets it in on the second try – but not in the way that he was supposed to.

Wait, why is Buddy participating? He’s not a staff member. Or is he? Mr. Ernst sometimes makes him do chores. Is he legally required to hire him because of that?

44-17-Brad-DannyMelody gives Brad instructions on how to lip-lock with Danny.

44-18-Jake-ErnstJake burps in Mr. Ernst’s face.

44-19-Jake-coolHe claims the tuna that he ate for lunch upset his stomach, but check out that cool, confident look. I think he just didn’t want his uncle’s lips on his own.

Wow, Jodie’s got it easy. Steve’s in the pool with Kyle and Buddy, so she gets to just lay out and work on her tan.

44-20-Ernst-jumpsMr. Ernst jumps in the pool.

44-21-Ernst-drownsHe pretends to be drowning.

Jodie seems to have given up on the training. She’s just hanging out at the pool at this point.

44-22-Jake-relaxesJake is supposed to rescue his uncle, but that means putting his book and drink down.

Does no one except Mr. Ernst and Melody care about the ranch closing? Yes, I know this situation would be ridiculous in real life, but that’s what they’ve chosen to run with, so this slacking off makes it seem like most of the characters simply don’t care about their jobs.

Anyway, nice touch with the Parkers still arguing in the background.

44-23-Jake-goofsJake is still holding a grudge against Mr. Ernst over the burping incident (wait, what?), but Melody talks him into trying to “save” his drowning uncle, except he really doesn’t take it at all seriously. Jake’s probably not very motivated. Despite wanting to stay last season, if the Bar None closes, he simply gets to go back to sunny L.A. and his nice, empty house, where he can do as he pleases.

Melody gets Mr. Ernst to fake delirium, and he does so by calling out for his “mommy”, claiming “the big boys tied rocks to [his] feet”. I wonder if he’s drawing on actual childhood memories.

Jake argues with Melody over what to do – until finally Melody, in front of the insurance guy that’s supervising this testing and holds the future of the ranch in his hands, shoves Jake into the swimming pool:

44-24-Melody-shovesThat’ll help.

44-25-Ernst-drowns-JakeMr. Ernst, “pumped full of adrenaline and not thinking clearly”, shoves Jake underwater. For some reason, Mr. Ernst has to question Melody over when to let his nephew come back up. In a funny moment, Melody had forgotten Jake’s in the process of drowning and then just calmly tells Mr. Ernst to “let him up; see if he’s learned anything”. Jake demands his lawyer, and Mr. Ernst shoves him back underwater – in front of the insurance guy that holds the future of his ranch in his hands. Melody gives Mr. Ernst some pointers about life-saving, and then Mr. Ernst is the one to rescue Jake, winning Melody’s praise.

44-26-DannyOkay, we had a shirtless David Lascher back in “Bunkmate Battle” (season 2, episode 04), so it’s time for a shirtless Joe Torres.

Danny is going to pretend to be drowning, and Brad is supposed to pretend to rescue him. He’s not very enthusiastic.

44-27-Brad-poleBrad offers him the pole, but “he can’t see it”, because “he’s delirious”. Danny overacts and insults Jake’s breath.

44-28-Brad-scaredMelody gives Brad the life preserver and tells her to dive in and save Danny, but Brad gets scared and runs off.

44-29-gangLater, the gang comes to talk Brad back over to the pool, but she just wants to be alone, so Mr. Ernst has them clear out.

44-30-Ernst-BradHe then immediately asks Brad if she wants to talk, and she reiterates she just wants to be alone. Mr. Ernst realizes she has a fear of the water and compares it to his own fear of heights. Bullshit. See “The Competition” (season 1, episode 05), written by the same fucking writer:

05-11-Danny-toilingBrad did learn how to swim, but she had a bad experience around that time, when she was about six. Her parents were having a party, and her Uncle Winston decided it’d be lots of fun to dangle her off the edge of the diving board and threaten to let go. His grip slipped, and she went into the pool. She had never been in the water over her head before, and she panicked. They fished her out, and she couldn’t stop crying for three days.

While Brad is telling Mr. Ernst about her childhood trauma, the rest of the gang intrudes – twice.

Brad says she understands if Mr. Ernst makes her go into the pool, knowing the importance of the insurance. Mr. Ernst says nobody is going to make her do anything. Brad breathes a sigh of relief.

44-31-Griggs-ErnstMr. Griggs comes by and is all like “Tick-tock, motherfucker.” Mr. Ernst tries to find a way around forcing Brad to go into the pool, but Mr. Griggs is like “Bitch goes in, or pool’s closed. Or just fire her ass. Whatevs.”

44-32-Brad-somber44-33-ParkersAfter the commercial break, the Parkers are still arguing. She wants him to support her in…overcoming her fear, I guess, but he can’t.

44-34-Jake-coalsJake’s solution is for them to walk on a bed of burning coals, claiming it’s done in fear workshops in California all of the time. He admits he’s never done it personally, but he gets the matches from Buddy. Seriously, is Jake actively trying to get the ranch shut down, or is he just really stupid?

44-35-Ernst-upsetMr. Ernst arrives, thinking there’s gonna be a “weenie roast”. Upon learning the true purpose of the coals, he puts a stop to that shit and has Jake and Buddy clean it up.

Mr. Ernst is unsure what to do about Brad; he can’t fire her, but he can’t close the pool either. Again, why is this an issue?! Just don’t assign Brad to pool duty!

Jake decides to enroll Brad in Mondo Courage. Step 1: Desensitization:

44-36-Brad-flicks44-37-Brad-poursJake gets Brad to do this by asking her if she has another job. She doesn’t, but what does it matter? Her parents are rich. Instead, Jake should be appealing to her desire to stay here out of friendship, but Brad was ready to lose her job by chewing out Kyle, so maybe she’s not particularly attached to this place.

44-38-Brad-throws44-39-Brad-baptizes“I baptize you in the name of Aloysius!”

Brad finally tells Jake that she’s not afraid of the fucking water trough.

44-40-spyingThe rest of the gang has been spying on them, getting Jake mad. Jake futilely throws water at the departing “weasels”.

44-41-Brad-upset“Is the episode over yet?”

44-42-Brad-poolWhat the fuck? It seems Mr. Ernst’s warning of the insurance guy seeing Jake’s antics has gone unheeded.

This is part of the process to “slowly reintroduce [Brad] to the water”. Brad threatens to “reintroduce [Jake] to pain” if anybody sees her like this. Okay, that’s pretty funny. Heck, Brad gets some nice lines during this scene.

Why does she still have the damn glass?

44-43-everybodyHa. They really are an intrusive bunch.

44-44-Ernst-tripsMr. Ernst trips over the life preserver and knocks Brad into the pool. Almost everyone jumps in to save her. Mr. Ernst works on getting his boots off before taking the plunge.

44-45-Brad-pissed“Fuck you guys, seriously.”

Everyone cheers Brad for swimming. Mr. Ernst declares she can take the test, and the pool is saved. Brad points out that this is the second time in her life that she nearly drowned. She apologizes for all of the trouble that she caused (which is none, but the episode is going with the victim blaming herself) and, while not explicitly quitting, goes off to pack her stuff. Melody wonders what to do.

Mr. Griggs comes by and asks for an update. He points out the pool and the lake as potential hazards.

44-46-Melody-ideaMelody gets an idea, based on the dubious supposition that Brad is afraid of only pools, not all water.

44-47-Melody-KyleShe gives Geoffrey Coy a chance to earn his paycheck for this episode.

44-48-Kyle-BradLater, having been informed by her friends where to find him, Brad comes by the lake to say goodbye to Kyle. Kyle claims he’s not too good about saying goodbyes and also claims he “just got here”. It hasn’t sunk in yet for Brad that’s she leaving, and she says she’ll probably realize it on the plane ride home, cry, and make a complete fool of herself. Helping Brad with her luggage, Kyle says that’s exactly why he hates saying goodbyes. Brad tries to convince Kyle (and herself) that it’s not really goodbye, and they’ll see each other, but Kyle deflates her hopes.

Brad wants to get going and takes her luggage, but Kyle asks her for a hug.

44-49-Brad-Kyle-hugHe then asks her for a kiss.

44-50-Brad-shoves-Kyle44-51-Kyle-drowns44-52-Brad-realizesBrad initially panics but then realizes her friends have set her up. No, it’s not because they’re standing a few feet away from her, because she actually somehow manages to not notice them.

44-53-emergencyBrad calls them out, and they come out. She admits they “sucked [her] in with the weeds business”. What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Jake and Buddy seem confused, and Jake sends Buddy off to get Melody.

44-54-Brad-saves-KyleSomehow convinced this is real and fearing Melody won’t get here in time, Brad runs into shallow water and “saves” Kyle.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of this moment from “Inmates Run the Asylum” (season 3, episode 01), written by the same fucking writer:

27-21-Ted-fallsAnyway, let’s get this episode over with.

44-55-Brad-liplocks-KyleAfter he gets the kiss from Brad, he admits he was faking and asks for another one. Brad shoves him back in the lake and is hella pissed at her friends for scaring her half to death.

44-56-Ernst-GriggsMr. Griggs is convinced, and he and Mr. Ernst go off to sign the papers, so the new policy will be in effect at 5:00 PM.

44-57-Ernst-climbs44-58-gang-cheersThe pre-credits scene at the end has Mr. Ernst climbing the windmill in an attempt to get over his fear of heights as the gang cheers him on.

44-59-Ernst-triumphsHa.

As the scene fades to the closing credits, Jake tells him to come down, which worries him.

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was really mixed. It’s impressive that they picked up on throwaway comments in “Battle of the Sexes” (season 1, episode 02) and “The Good, the Bad, & the Obnoxious” (season 1, episode 08) and made it the focus of an episode, but it could have been done better. The “insurance/liability” reason makes no sense. No business requires all of its employees (or even any of them) to put themselves at risk unless it’s specifically part of their jobs. The simple solution was to assign Brad to other areas, so she’d never be at the pool except on her time off (and, even then, she’d more likely be at T.R.O.T.).

As an alternative, maybe Melody leaves the pool for a bit, and Brad has to overcome her fear to save a guest at a crucial moment. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Blue Crush” (if you haven’t, shame on you; go and watch it), Kate Bosworth’s character has to deal with a similar near-drowning memory/fear. Maybe tape some flashbacks with young Brad in the family pool. In that’s cost-prohibitive, then record audio flashbacks. Either way, mix them in with, say, scenes of Brad restlessly sleeping as these childhood memories continue to haunt her. Follow her through her day as she tries to mentally brush them aside until she has no choice but to confront them.

All of that said, Kelly Brown makes of the most of the material that she’s given and is the highlight of this episode.

Countdown to the Second Coming of Ted: 2

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Season 4, Episode 04: Dudesbury

Writer: Lisa Melamed
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: September 28, 1990

Here’s an odd bit of trivia. This episode is on the DVD after the next episode, “Fear”, in regard to how the files are ordered, but it’s listed in the correct order in the menu.

43-01-Brad-novelIn the cold open, Brad is spending her evening eating popcorn and reading an erotic romance novel.

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No, seriously, this novel is extremely pornographic. The author, Bertrice Small (who died a year ago next Wednesday), was known for writing graphic rape, incest, and all sorts of sex scenes. The heroines usually have multiple lovers. Perhaps this is Brad’s way of telling Melody: “Who’s the vanilla one now, bitch?”

Here are a few excerpts from the novel, courtesy of a review on Amazon (keep in mind that the heroine, Skye O’Malley, rides horses – just like Brad):

“As his seed thundered into her hidden valley he shook fiercely with the intensity of his passion.”

“Ahh…Skye, your little honey-oven is made for me.”

“Let me play the great desert stallion tonight, my Skye. Roll over, and be my little wild mare.” I wonder if the mare is also a “little strange”.

“A moment before his climax, he touched one hand beneath her to tweak at the little button of her sensuality and they shuddered their satisfaction in union.”

“Your little honey-oven burns my lance with the fiery flow of the passion you would like to deny me, but can’t.”

And here’s one from a scene in which Skye is raped:

“And though she hated him, her body treacherously yielded itself.”

There’s also a scene towards the end involving a twelve-year-old girl and an aroused dog. Yeah…

So how does Brad react? She rolls her eyes and exclaims “Men!” in amused disbelief. If it wasn’t for the fact that the door’s unlocked, I could totally imagine Brad feverishly masturbating to the hot beastial metaphors whilst simultaneously wondering if she could clandestinely sneak over to the corral for a little something-something.

41-09-Brad-rides-Charisma-2“Your mouth says ‘Neigh’, but your heart says ‘Aye’.”

Now that I’ve completely destroyed Brad in your minds, let’s continue.

43-02-MelodyMelody comes in, trying to tactfully avoid the implication that Brad was without a date tonight.

43-03-fine-literatureBrad cuts through the bullshit and says she “had a perfectly nice evening at home, reading fine literature”. The part where Brad says “Hey, Mel, check out this sex scene between the dog and the underage girl! It’s so fucking hot!” was, sadly, left on the cutting-room floor.

Right now, I’m wondering about Cassie’s mysterious disappearance.

Anyway, Melody says Brad can’t live her life through romance novels. Brad asks why not and refers to the fine, upstanding rapist characters as “exasperating”. She wants to hear about Melody’s date, so she can “live [her] life through [Melody]”.

43-04-Melody-guysBefore Melody can get into it, Jake and Danny arrive. Jake asks if they’re decent. Melody says yes. Jake decides to forget it and walk away. Okay, that’s pretty damn funny. Brad invites them in for a recounting of Melody’s hot date. This amuses the guys, which slightly ticks off Melody. Anyway, the guys make gestures and facial expressions behind Melody’s back to “correct” Melody’s tale for Brad. It turns out that the guy was an idiot, which Jake and Danny know, because they followed them to the diner or wherever. They were in the next booth, in disguise:

43-05-disguisesMelody is pissed and tells them to get a life. Brad is amused and wants to go out with them next time. They banter for a bit, and Melody can’t believe her misfortune.

43-06-Dud-RanchAfter the credits, Danny is working on a comic strip. I know we don’t get a good look at it, but I’m wondering if Joe Torres drew it.

43-07-Danny-JakeJake arrives with a bag. It goes unexplained, but I’m guessing he’s on garbage detail. Danny is startled and tries to hide his work. Jake believes it’s a diary and thinks it’s macho. He knows a surfer back home, Ten-Toe Connolly, that keeps one, not missing a day.

43-08-Jake-readsAfter some prodding, Danny finally shows the comic strip to Jake. It’s called “The Dud Ranch” (the “e” fell off the sign). It’s about Melody’s date with “Neanderthal Man”, but Melody is called “Harmony”. Danny and Jake are also in the strip. Danny was inspired to do this based on Melody’s comment in the cold open, comparing her situation to a cartoon. Jake calls Danny “dangerous”. Danny wants to keep this between them, but Jake wants Danny to share it. Danny inadvertently gives Jake an idea.

43-09-Roy-BradOn another day, the love child of Benjamin Ernst and Balki Bartokomous arrives at the ranch. His name is Roy, and he’s new to “the paper”. He stares at Brad, getting a weird feeling from her. He’s here to see “Mr. Decker”, which Brad finds odd, but she points him to the main lodge.

Roy is played by Tracy Henry. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig.

43-10-Lucy-BuddyLucy and Buddy come by. Lucy is carrying a hideous statue that Mr. Ernst had bid on and won. Roy asks them for “Mr. Decker” (why? Brad already told him where to go), which Lucy finds odd. Buddy asks Roy what he wants Jake for. Roy says it’s a “business matter”, and he’s from “The Daily News”, which isn’t a real Tucson newspaper. Tucson is served by the Arizona Daily Star (and, previously, by the Tucson Citizen), but I understand they can’t use a real newspaper for this story. Anyway, Jake had previously placed a classified ad, and a bunch of beautiful models showed up. Lucy wants to know what’s going on, and she and Buddy go with Roy to find Jake.

43-11-statueRoy asks about the statue, but Lucy is clueless. She and Roy go into the main lodge, and Buddy wishes for the statue to fly away.

43-12-Jake-goofs-offJake is working the front desk and starts “drumming” with a pencil and the phone receiver – as well as making “music” with the stapler. Lucy is (uncharacteristically) amused. Roy is confused. Jake then realizes the person that he was talking to, Mrs. Morton, is still on the line. He quickly ends the conversation and hangs up. Jake is excited at Roy’s arrival and goes to get Danny (by shouting out the window). Lucy demands to know what the fuck’s going on. Danny arrives.

43-13-meetingAfter a bunch of surprised reactions and confusion, Lucy gets them to clear things up. Jake stole Danny’s book and sent it to the newspaper. More arguing ensues. Buddy yells at them to shut up. Lucy thanks him. Roy explains his editor hates him and has rejected all of his ideas – until he showed him the comic strip that arrived in the mail. Roy calls Danny brilliant. Jake seconds that. Danny wants to keep it private. Once he explains what the strip is about, Buddy loves it. Danny has to think about it. Roy says Danny is really talented and promises him money, but Danny says it’s not about money. Jake tries to convince Danny. Roy promises Danny a daily audience of thousands of readers.

43-14-Danny-agreesDanny finally agrees to it and decides to get to work. He asks Roy when the strip is gonna start running, and Roy nervously tries to explain.

43-15-Melody-pissedToo late. Melody storms in, hella pissed and calling for Danny’s balls on a silver platter. Yeah, the strip’s already running, which would have gotten the newspaper sued in real life if Danny had said no (or possibly even if he hadn’t).

43-16-statue43-17-Jake-RoyOn another day, amidst the stupid statue (which has taken residence in the lunch area), Jake gives Roy…the next strip, I guess. So Roy has to stop by the ranch to pick these up?

43-18-Roy-girls43-19-Roy-BradRoy has been pestering Brad for a date, but she keeps turning him down and finally makes it definite, but he doesn’t get it. After he leaves, Melody and Brad banter for a bit about Clark Kent and Superman. Melody observes Brad never gives anybody a chance and tells her to go out with Roy once. Brad doesn’t want to. The discussion turns to Danny’s comic strip, which, according to Melody, “is getting worse and worse every day”.

43-20-Buddy-paperBuddy and Lucy agree. Buddy is “Buggy”, who “looks like a pumpkin head on a stick”. Lucy is “Lasso, the terrorist ranch hand”. Brad is “Drab”, the dateless, feed sack-wearing loser. Melody has been nervous that Danny might catch her doing something stupid and use it as a plot for his next strip.

43-21-Jake-pissedJake comes by, saying “Hey, duds.” Okay, that’s cute. He doesn’t share their concerns until Brad reveals he’s “Jerk”, the “total dweeb” that keeps his job only because he’s the owner’s nephew. Jake is pissed, but they don’t share his concern.

43-22-caricaturesAfter the commercial break, Danny is making more money by drawing caricatures of the guests.

43-23-Danny-drawsHe’s currently drawing an easily-amused man’s girlfriend. Melody seems to disapprove of the drawing.

43-24-girlfriend43-25-girlfriend-destroysSo does the girlfriend.

The boyfriend is played by Steve Pearce. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig. He had previously played a guest (perhaps the same character) in “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (season 3, episode 09).

The girlfriend is played by Victoria Henning. “Hey Dude” was her sole acting gig.

43-26-Brad-photographerBrad finds the whole thing stupid and turns down Danny’s offer of drawing a caricature of her. She has to fend off a photographer.

43-27-Brad-hidesIt turns out that the photographer is from the newspaper, which is doing on article on “The Dud Ranch”. Brad doesn’t want everyone to know she’s Drab.

The photographer is played by Paul Guyot. “Hey Dude” was his first acting gig in a short career of bit parts (five of them), spanning 1990-1997. However, he’s gotten a lot of production work done between “Judging Amy”, “Leverage”, and “The Librarians”; he’s done writing work for those three series plus “Felicity”, “Level 9”, and an upcoming television movie called “Geostorm”; he was a story editor on “Judging Amy”; he has a few assistant credits; and he has a lot of stand-in credits (including standing in for Don Johnson and Christian Slater twice each). Pretty damn good. Either this episode or standing in for Nicholas Cage in “Fire Birds” was his first work.

Brad gets on Danny’s case about not doing his work (namely, grooming and exercising the horses). Danny has a free pass from ranch work from Mr. Ernst, who had also come up with the caricature idea (“take advantage of the local talented hand”). I bet Danny was like “Just give all of my work to Kyle. We don’t wanna hang out with him, anyway.”

Brad gets a sharp line in when she asks “Oh, now you’re the talent?”, which possibly is a reference to when Mr. Ernst hyped up Melody in “Our Little Champion” (season 2, episode 03).

Brad tries to drag Danny off to work, but he refuses, because he might “hurt [his] drawing hand”.

43-28-Brad-threatensBrad threatens to do it for him. Danny says he has a better job.

43-29-Lucy-pissedBrad is in disbelief. Lucy gets pissed at Danny for that remark as well as his depiction of her in the comic strip.

43-30-Lucy-photographerThe photographer comes by to take a picture of her, and Lucy gets pissed at him as well, which basically proves Danny’s point.

43-31-Melody-deskMelody, who’s been observing all of this from the desk and thinking “Fuck this fucking shit”, is summoned by Danny.

43-32-Melody-caricature43-33-caricaturesHe drew caricatures of the three of them (and perhaps the others). Melody complains about her drawing. Brad thinks it’s “kinda cute” and offers to take it, but Melody refuses. Lucy thinks her own drawing is “not that bad”. Danny charges them the “friends” rate of $10 each for the autographed drawings, and they give them back to him in disgust.

43-34-RoyRoy shows up and flirts with Brad.

43-35-Brad-rolls-eyesBrad reacts accordingly and tells Roy to fuck off.

Roy asks Danny about the photo shoot, and Danny says his friends are “bugged” by all of the attention that he’s getting. Roy gives Danny a rambling pep talk and asks him to draw him in as Brad’s boyfriend.

43-36-Jake-pissedJake comes by, complaining about the “bozo” photographer. He also regales his friends with a tale of him walking back to the bunk house last night and hearing Danny interviewing himself. He calls Danny out of touch and wants someone to talk to Mr. Ernst about stopping him now. Brad says Mr. Ernst laughs his head off every morning. Melody is surprised Mr. Ernst finds “Mr. Ear Nest, the bumbling ranch owner” funny. Lucy reveals Mr. Ernst doesn’t know he’s Mr. Ear Nest. Melody finds sorry for him. Jake vows to tell him, but Brad advises against it. Jake asks for alternate suggestions. Brad suggests stealing Danny’s comics and writing personal attacks on them. Jake loves the idea, but Brad claims she was kidding. Melody suggests sitting Danny down and forcing him to listen to them. Jake suggests a hardback chair and hot interrogation lights. As he says this:

43-37-Brad-interrogatesBrad, I love you.

Lucy decides to keep it simple and calls for a staff meeting after dinner. They start talking about how they’re gonna verbally kick Danny’s ass.

43-38-staff-meetingAfter dinner, the staff (sans Mr. Ernst and Kyle) is present, and so is Buddy. The others are kept waiting as Danny finishes eating. Lucy opens the meeting and invites the others to speak up, but they, strangely, refuse to say anything. Why?

Danny speaks up, upset that they loved the strip until it was about them, revealing what they are. Jake, Lucy, and Brad inadvertently prove his point.

43-39-Melody-applaudsMelody applauds Danny for figuring out what’s wrong with them but then is like “So fucking what? Nobody’s perfect. We don’t want everyone reading this shit.”

43-40-Brad-lecturesDanny storms off from the “waste of time”, but Brad stops him and lectures him. She tries to get him to think about positive moments that he’s had with his friends. We learn Brad once sat up all night with Danny when he was sick, and Melody listens to all of Danny’s problems. Defensive, Danny says he’s not trying to hurt anybody, but Brad says it doesn’t matter; he is. Danny declares it’s “just a stupid little comic strip” and runs off. Brad says it isn’t to them. Jake says they’ve gotta do something about Danny pronto.

43-41-Danny-caricature43-42-groupThey decide to give Danny “a taste of his own medicine”. Jake drew this in the universe of the series, but I’m guessing Joe Torres drew all of the drawings in this episode. Just a guess, though.

After some confusion over Danny’s hair (arrow, mousse, or moose antlers), they debate when to give it to Danny. Brad wants to video-tape Danny’s reaction. Jake wants to get it in the newspaper as a “tribute to the artist” and has Brad sweet-talk Roy into agreeing to it.

43-43-Jake-begsRoy seems preoccupied and wants to see Danny. When Brad doesn’t get immediate results, Jake begs Roy. Roy goes off to find Danny. Sensing something’s going on, Brad leads the others after Roy.

43-44-Danny-guestDanny has sold a drawing to a guest. The woman is played by Jo Ann Self. “Hey Dude” was her sole acting gig.

43-45-Danny-RoyRoy comes over and lays into Danny, asking if this is a joke. Danny wrote and drew nice strips for this week; he’s decided to take “The Dud Ranch” into a new direction. Someone gasps at this announcement, but I can’t tell if it’s Brad or Melody. Roy cautions Danny against doing this, and one of the girls gasps at Roy’s insistence on mean, nasty, sarcastic entertainment. Danny tells Roy to take it or leave it. Roy asks why. Danny says it wasn’t going so well for him. Roy is firm with Danny. Danny offers Roy a parting handshake (someone seemingly applauds at that), so…

43-46-Roy-begsDanny refuses to budge, even when Roy offers a compromise of alternating between nice and mean. Roy is worried over what the editor will do to him.

43-47-Roy-gangMelody pretends they just walked in and asks Roy what’s the matter. Roy claims Danny’s quit the strip. The gang rushes over, and Brad asks Danny how come. Danny says he broke his pencil. Jake demands the truth. Danny reveals the fact that “the most important people” didn’t like the strip “finally sunk in” (off camera, of course).

43-48-Melody-kisses-DannyMelody takes back every rotten thing that she ever thought about Danny.

Jake takes back “almost” every rotten thing that he ever said about Danny.

Roy asks the gang about the picture that they wanted him to run in the paper. They hide the caricature of Danny and pretend it didn’t happen.

As Roy leaves, Brad decides he might indeed be the great desert stallion to her little wild mare after all and gives chase. Melody slaps Danny on the back and seemingly sarcastically says “Great.” What the fuck? I don’t get it. Isn’t this what Melody wanted?

Brad admits to Roy what she says she’d never admit to Danny: after seeing Drab in the comic strip, she learned a couple things about herself. She says maybe she’s too picky and doesn’t always give people a chance. She’d like to change, starting with him.

43-49-Brad-RoyAnd though she hated him, her body treacherously yielded itself.

Brad’s suggestions for going out include bowling, roller skating, and…skeet shooting. She’s been hanging out with the Vlecks too long. Roy turns her down.

43-50-Brad-surprisedRoy explains it could only go downhill; either she’d hate him, or he’d discover she isn’t perfect (which is apparently an insurmountable obstacle for him). Brad admits she’s never been broken up with by someone that she wasn’t even going out with. Roy is late and excuses himself, saying he’ll see Brad in his dreams.

43-51-Brad-Men!“Men!”

43-52-partyThe pre-credits scene at the end has the gang throwing a party to celebrate Danny losing his job at the newspaper. They toast the end of “The Dud Ranch”. Brad happily says goodbye to Roy. Huh. Well, I guess she’s over him.

Buddy expresses Mr. Ernst’s condolences to Danny and reveals Mr. Ernst knew all along that he’s Mr. Ear Nest. Jake says Mr. Ernst has a better sense of humor than all of them combined. Melody considers maybe they weren’t such good sports.

43-53-Danny-caricatureDanny found the caricature that they drew of him…somehow. Who held onto it? Melody apologizes. Brad laughs it off. Danny doesn’t mind, but he says the arrow through his head looks like antlers. Jake crumples up the drawing, ticked off.

Buddy has Jake lift the ugly statue to move it…into Mr. Ernst’s office, I guess, but then…

43-54-broken-statueEveryone except Buddy yucks it up.

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was pretty good, but Danny was an ass for the way that he treated his friends in the comic strip and let “fame” go to his head. Also, his change of heart occurred off screen with no indication that it was going to, which I guess happens in real life, but they should have at least shown a brief moment with Danny pausing in silent reflection.

Despite not appearing, Mr. Ernst had a lot to do, affecting the main plot and even having his own subplot with that stupid statue.

Most importantly, though, in less than a minute, this episode revealed how Brad spends her evenings and what she considers “fine literature”. Giddy up.

Countdown to the Second Coming of Ted: 3

Season 4, Episode 03: Magnum Ernst

Writer: Clifford Fagin
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: September 21, 1990

I guess there was a rule that, every once in a while, there would be an episode with a totally batshit insane plot. Such is the case this week. What’s surprising, though, is the writer of this episode: Clifford Fagin. He wrote some good, down-to-Earth episodes previously. Of course, he also wrote “Suspicion” (season 1, episode 11). “Magnum Ernst” is definitely his weirdest script yet.

And it’s a minute longer than previous episodes. Yeah, the episode is nearly 25.5 minutes long, although there’s only about thirty more seconds of actual story. The closing credits run around 1:15. I don’t know why they suddenly decided to increase the running time.

42-01-ErnstIn the cold open, Mr. Ernst walks outside and inhales. He says he loves the smell of sagebrush in the morning. Okay.

42-02-Danny-ErnstHe then trips over Danny, who was crawling around on the ground. Danny helps an angry Mr. Ernst up and explains he was following a horn toad, and it went under the porch. Danny has an idea for The Bar None Museum – A Living Desert (a “fascinating” collection of the local flora and fauna). Danny says it’s “a good money-making idea”. Mr. Ernst brings up his Aunt Kathleen’s reptile farm (before they put in the interstate) as an example of a “thriving business”. Her main attraction was “The Tattooed Man” (his Uncle Jim).

42-03-Buddy-cageBefore Mr. Ernst can bore Danny (and us) too much with his story, Buddy comes by with exciting news: he just saw a walking roadrunner. Danny has Buddy take him to him.

42-04-horned-lizardMr. Ernst spots the “horn toad” (which is actually a lizard) and hops after it on all fours. Yeah…

42-05-girlsMelody and Brad make a pointless appearance in the last few seconds of the cold open, confused over their boss’ actions. Brad decides she doesn’t wanna fucking know, and they move on.

42-06-Buddy-JakeAfter the credits, Jake and Buddy spot the sheriff’s car at the ranch, and Jake gets on Buddy’s case about stealing soda cans and recycling them, because “they belong to the guests who drank them”, not money-seeking Buddy.

42-07-Sheriff-ErnstThe sheriff, who is unnamed in the episode but called Sheriff Cody in the closing credits, is having emergency ass surgery (seriously), so “Ben” will be covering for him for a few days.

Sheriff Cody is played by Jay Floyd. “Hey Dude” was his first of two acting gigs, the second being a bit part in a 1997 movie called “Girl Crazy”.

Buddy and Jake are proud of Mr. Ernst for doing this, and Jake gets a legit funny line in when he calls his uncle “Wyatt Ernst”.

But lets back the fuck up for a moment, shall we? Why is Mr. Ernst, of all people, filling in for the sheriff? Isn’t there a deputy that could – and would be more qualified to – do the job?

Second, this episode is making it seem like the Bar None is located in some backwater town like Mayberry or some shit. The sheriff is implied to have jurisdiction of the entire county. Pima County’s population is primarily concentrated in Tucson. In 1990, Tucson had a population of 405,371 people, which is nearly three times the 2010 population of the backwater county that I live in. That’s a decent-sized city! The Tucson Police Department is headed by a police chief, not a sheriff. But this stupid episode isn’t about to let facts get in its way.

Anyway, Sheriff Cody will be “right down the road at County General” (which isn’t a real hospital in Tucson) if Mr. Ernst needs him. So…in the same general area as the Snake Eyes Ranch and T.R.O.T., right?

42-08-starter-packageSheriff Cody gives Mr. Ernst his “official sheriff’s starter package”, which includes a .38 gun and a radio to contact “Marlene back at the office”. They’re really pushing this podunk image, aren’t they?

42-09-oathAt Mr. Ernst’s insistence, Sheriff Cody swears him in: “Do you swear to execute the duties of the sheriff and to keep the uniform pretty clean?” “I do.” “I now appoint you acting sheriff.”

42-10-sirenSheriff Cody also gives Mr. Ernst a siren to…stick on top of his Jeep or truck, I guess. The sheriff leaves, Mr. Ernst accidentally drops everything, and the siren goes off. Hilarious.

Mr. Ernst starts to “sound like a cop”, which worries Jake and Buddy.

42-11-new-sheriffHa. Anyway, I remember this shot being used in a Nickelodeon commercial for “Hey Dude” back in the early ’90s – not for this specific episode, just for the series in general. It had Western music playing, and there was a tough-sounding narrator.

42-12-Brad-ticket42-13-Lucy-BradBrad is upset over “Sheriff Ernst” (a.k.a. “Mr. Sheriff”) giving her a ticket for parking a horse in a “mounting and dismounting zone only” for a minute while she ran to the tack room. Mr. Ernst claims there’s “nothing [that he] can do about it now”, because it’s “in the files”. What the shit kind of reasoning is that? Anyway, Brad is so pissed that she’ll write her congressman – and her parents.

After Brad storms off, Lucy tries to talk to Mr. Ernst about his behavior. He admits he pissed off a guest this morning by giving her a citation for smoking in a non-smoking area. Lucy suggests educating the public through the use of signs or something. Honestly, I wish she’d just tell him to stop with this fucking bullshit. Why is the “sheriff” limiting his patrol to the Bar None, anyway? And am I the only one seeing a similarity to Ted’s power trip in “Inmates Run the Asylum” (season 3, episode 01)?

42-14-squirt-gunLucy makes fun of Mr. Ernst for carrying around a squirt gun, but Mr. Ernst was nervous, because he “never held a real gun before”. Bullshit. See “Perfect Father” (season 1, episode 07):

07-53-Buddy-fives-dadBesides, he continues, it was heavy. We learn Lucy grew up on a ranch with seven brothers and learned early on how to handle firearms. Lucy offers to give him an introductory lesson. Mr. Ernst is pleased but has her keep the squirt gun thing a secret.

42-15-Ernst-gunWhere the fuck did he get that? It’s not the sheriff’s gun, and he said in “They’re Back” (season 4, episode 01) that they have no guns on the ranch.

Anyway, Mr. Ernst brings up John Wayne, who seems to get quite a few mentions on this series. Lucy gives him some pointers and then pulls up a target.

42-16-targetWhen the fuck did she have time to make/find this?

42-17-Ernst-groundAnyway, the “sheriff” shits his pants and gets knocked over by the gun’s recoil, which he explains as taking “evasive action”. He gives the gun to Lucy, and she advises resuming after lunch. He does a bad John Wayne impression, and she helps him walk away.

42-18-Jake-meditatesJake is doing yoga, I guess because he’s the “weird” one from California, home of alternate lifestyles or some shit.

42-19-Danny-annoyedJake’s “yogurt” is making Danny “nervous”, although he seems more annoyed than anything else. Danny works on cages for the animals. We learn Danny has “painful memories” of nasty falls and contorted legs.

42-20-Mr.-Cactus-HeadBuddy brings by his contribution to the museum: Mr. Cactus Head. I don’t even…

After some banter, we learn Danny hasn’t caught any animals yet, opting to build the cages first. Jake gets on Danny’s case.

42-21-hat42-22-Danny-noMy feelings exactly.

42-23-Lucy-MelodyLater, Melody and Lucy’s conversation is interrupted by:

42-24-Madame-SonyaFuckfuckfuckfuckfuck

A guest (uncredited) wants Melody’s attention, so Lucy goes over to deal with the “sheriff”. He’s “undercover” on a “police sting operation”. He’s been studying the “little-known felonies”, and he says, in this county, paying money to a fortune-teller is illegal. That’s bullshit. Yeah, there are a background check, a license requirement, and hefty fees (or, at least, there was as late as 2008), but it’s not illegal.

Anyway, he’s waiting for someone to slip him a “fiver”. I assume he means a $5 bill and not weed or a handjob. After some bullshit palm reading (Lucy will be either an acrobat, which interests her, or a laundromat), Lucy points out that Mr. Ernst is engaging in entrapment, which is illegal (this shocks Mr. Ernst) and not nice to the guests. She seems to assure him that he’s got the Bar None’s “criminal element” under control.

42-25-Miss-DibbleAs if on cue (what is this, a sitcom or something?), a guest runs out of her room, calling for help and claiming she’s been robbed.

42-26-crowdAfter the commercial break (which comes very early in this episode), a crowd gathers around the guest, whose name seems to be Miss Vanderdibble, although the closing credits call her “Miss Dibble”, which I’ll refer to her as, because “Vanderdibble” is such a silly name.

Miss Dibble is played by Katherine E. Roberts. “Hey Dude” was her sole acting gig.

42-27-Dibble-upsetMr. Ernst asks what’s going on. Brad explains something’s missing from Miss Dibble’s room, and Miss Dibble clarifies it’s her silver charm bracelet; it’s special to her and has her name engraved on it. She demands someone call the police immediately.

42-28-Dibble-insultsMr. Ernst has to convince her that he’s “the police”. She basically accuses him of being high as fuck, which is awesome.

Hang on. Who’s that girl next to Brad? Is she supposed to be a staff member? She’s wearing khaki shorts, but I don’t see a badge. Is she the same staffer from “Dueling Ranches” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy”?

Anyway, Mr. Ernst questions Miss Dibble, who explains her bracelet went missing from the top of her dresser near her (always locked) door while she was out mountain-biking. Her door and windows were still locked. Mr. Ernst suspects an “inside job”.

42-29-Ida-RillSuddenly, another guest yells out that her needlepoint is gone. Everyone runs over to her. Mr. Ernst declares this is a “conspiracy”.

42-30-breatheThe old woman is hyperventilating, so Brad has Danny give her a bag, which she has the old woman breathe into. I love Betty’s reaction, which roughly translates to “I so don’t give a fuck.”

42-31-bagDanny had stuck a banana peel from lunch in the bag and forgotten about it. Brad tries to comfort the woman, Ida Rill from Kansas. Ida Rill is played by Frieda M. Emme. “Hey Dude” was her sole acting gig.

This is the second of two episodes where IMDb credits Toby Huss as Mr. Ernst, which is so obviously wrong.

42-32-Ernst-assuresBrad gets Mr. Ernst to assure the guests that he’ll find their stuff. Betty and Lucy try to comfort Miss Dibble. Everyone encourages Mr. Ernst.

42-33-Ernst-on-the-caseThey shouldn’t have.

42-34-Jake-drumsJake provides nature documentary-sounding narration and drums up some “suspenseful” music as Buddy and Danny look on. Okay, that’s pretty funny. There’s even some “wilderness”/”tribal” musical score going on.

Mr. Ernst has trouble communicating with Marlene over the radio (translation: they’re not paying for an additional actor to do a voiceover), and he’s carrying the squirt gun again.

His dad being “the heat” makes Buddy nervous, and Jake agrees. Jake adds, other than a general concern for global warming, he used to be a pretty laid-back guy. Danny points out that Jake “break[s] into a sweat” when the FBI warnings come on at the beginning of home videos. Jake admits he has a problem with authority figures. The three guys speculate for a while on the crimes and perpetrators.

42-35-Danny-netDanny goes off “to hunt the elusive desert salamander and other potential candidates for the living museum”, and Buddy joins him. Jake spouts some bullshit Tarzan quote to them as they leave and then continues drumming.

42-36-Ernst-magnifying-glass42-37-Ernst-plucksLater, in his office, Mr. Ernst collects hair samples from everybody (starting with Jake) to send to “the boys in Forensics” to match up with the hair sample that he took from “the scene of the crime” (he doesn’t specify which one). He’s farming out this work to Mr. Rodey’s chemistry class over at the junior high. As ridiculous as that is, the writer does at least have Jake specify it’s a summer school chemistry class to prevent the timeline from exploding.

42-38-Ernst-interrogates-JakeThe “sheriff” proceeds to interrogate “Dog Breath”. Basically, it’s like when he interrogated Danny in “Perfect Father”, except now he’s totally serious about it.

42-39-Melody-interruptsMelody interrupts, much to Jake’s gratitude. Okay, that’s pretty funny. Jake accidentally gets fingerprinting ink on his face, and Melody is ashamed of Mr. Ernst for fingerprinting his own nephew. Mr. Ernst insists it’s all “part of the investigative process” to stop “this rash of burglaries”. Mr. Ernst proceeds to grill Melody, making her nervous.

42-40-Buddy-victoriousBuddy comes in and announces he and Danny just caught the thief.

42-41-Buddy-couchThe others rush out the door in excitement, and Melody (the “nice” one) shoves Buddy out of her fucking way. He lands on the couch.

Outside, Mr. Ernst confronts the thief, going into a Dirty Harry impression (which also seems to be a recurring thing on this series, albeit not as much as John Wayne).

42-42-thiefIt’s a packrat.

42-43-bracelet42-44-needlepointDanny had staked out his nest…for some reason…and discovered Miss Dibble’s bracelet and Miss Rill’s needlepoint. Mr. Ernst is envious of Danny, because he always wanted to go out on a stakeout. Miss Rill rightly asks why a mouse would want her needlepoint, and Miss Dibble asks if this is usual behavior for mice. Buddy says it is. Melody wonders how the mouse got in and out of the guest houses. Jake guesses the mouse must have crawled through a hole in the wall. Mr. Ernst bullshits a bit about the scope of the “hole in the wall gang” and puts his hand against the cage. The mouse seemingly bites him, and Mr. Ernst says “Rats”, makes a vegetarian joke, and growls at the mouse, and let’s move on, shall we?

42-45-Lucy-ErnstThe next day (I guess), during breakfast…at the front desk, Mr. Ernst laments having to give up his bullshit sheriff job.

42-46-Melody-donutsMelody brings by donuts and gives the “sheriff” first choice. He can’t decide between frosted and jelly, so she gives him one of each.

42-47-Ernst-donutMr. Ernst again laments the impending loss of his bullshit sheriff job but expresses his appreciation to Melody for her daily donut delivery. This is the first that we’ve heard of it, but most of this episode occurred during a single day.

42-48-Brad-sheriffBrad arrives with coffee and Sheriff Cody. Sheriff Cody, upon seeing the donuts, says he’s died and gone to Sheriff Heaven. Okay, legit funny joke. Melody invites him to help himself. He comments on the “interesting taste”. Melody explains it’s the “oat brand”, which helps keep his cholesterol down. They banter for a bit. Sheriff Cody declares “Ben” is his “standby sheriff”, because he did a “crackerjack job” at “keepin’ the peace”. Who the fuck did he hear that from? Whoever it is is a goddamn liar.

They banter for a bit more, and then Mr. Ernst returns the “official sheriff’s started package”, but Sheriff Cody lets him hold onto the badge for “next time”, which delights Mr. Ernst. Lucy gives Mr. Ernst an undeserved compliment on his performance as sheriff, and Melody and Brad say they’ll still bring him his donuts and coffee, respectively, every morning. Mr. Ernst says he’ll still be able to take a snooze every once in a while in the station wagon. Say what? What station wagon? And when has Mr. Ernst ever been shown to sleep in it? Melody says “the [police] force will be with you”. Hahahahaha. Shut up!

42-49-Ernst-ticketSheriff Cody returns with a forgotten ticket for Mr. Ernst. A few weeks ago, Mr. Ernst double-parked and blocked old Judge Reinhart’s Chevy. Melody humorously offers Mr. Ernst another donut to cheer him up.

42-50-desert-museumThe pre-credits scene at the end has the grand opening of the Bar None Desert Museum (a.k.a. Bar None Museum of the Living Desert).

42-51-Buddy-unveilsBuddy unveils the animals, which even Mr. Ernst hasn’t seen.

42-52-girlsThe girls are like “What the fuck?”

42-53-animals42-54-animals-242-55-animals-3Mr. Ernst is angry at Danny for not rounding up anything cool in “2,000 square miles of desert” and says he can’t ask the guests to pay to look at this shit. Danny tries to explain this as a “start”. We learn the Bar None’s season ends on Labor Day (the first Monday in September), which is considered to be the unofficial end of summer. We also learn Danny and Buddy gave Mr. Ernst free admission. Oh, they featured a rubber snake, a “barn kitten” that lives on the ranch, and a seemingly dead turtle. Lucy insults the museum, and Melody agrees. Oh, the packrat “broke out of jail”. Danny reveals the final animal:

42-56-skunkA skunk.

42-57-panicEveryone panics.

After they leave, Danny yells it’s a stuffed skunk.

So ends another day at the Bar None.

This episode was pretty fucking stupid and completely unrealistic. There were some funny moments, and I like that we got some more backstory on Lucy, but overall what the fucking hell? I can’t believe this is from the same guy that wrote “The Good, the Bad, & the Obnoxious”, “Teacher’s Pest”, “Superstar”, “Datenite”, and “Ride, She Said”.

Countdown to the Second Coming of Ted: 4

Season 4, Episode 02: Ride, She Said

Before I start this review, I’d like to make an observation that I’d only recently realized regarding the previous episode: Sometime after the series premiere, Mr. Ernst had air conditioners installed in the guest rooms.

Writer: Clifford Fagin
Director: Fred K. Keller
Original air date: September 14, 1990

41-01-Melody-hatIn the cold open, Melody has a new cowboy hat. Brad compliments the “cowgirl” on it. Melody thinks it’s a little too nice to wear around here, and Brad agrees. After a bit of banter (during which the audio gets really rough during one of Melody’s lines (damage?)), Brad brings up “that great Fourth of July party” that they had. It’s unclear whether this was “this summer” or “last summer”. Anyway, Buddy accidentally trimmed Melody’s hair with a fistful of sparklers. Melody tries to think of an idea for a party to be held at the ranch.

41-02-deliveryA guy comes by with a delivery for Brad, who assumes it’s her dry cleaning, but…

41-03-CharismaThe delivery man is played by Billy Flick. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig.

41-04-Brad-cardBrad reads a card from her parents: “Dear Bradley, Her name’s Charisma, and we couldn’t resist. Think of it as an early Christmas present.”

That’s the inspiration that Melody needed.

41-05-in-stereoThe series is now shown in stereo (or at least it’s now advertised as doing so at the end of the theme song).

41-06-Brad-CharismaAfter the credits, on another day (I guess), Brad is practically making love to her new girl toy. Charisma seemingly talks to Brad.

41-07-guysNah, it was just Jake. To her credit, Brad realizes it after only a second. The guys want to witness Brad riding Charisma for the first time, which she, strangely, hasn’t done yet. Jake banters a bit about “Daylight Savings [sic] Time”, and then Brad has him help her mount her beloved steed.

41-08-Brad-rides-Charisma41-09-Brad-rides-Charisma-2The guys compliment Charisma and Brad. Brad loves riding her “sweet girl”.

41-10-Melody-clipboardMelody comes by and is all “Christmas in July party, bitches! Let’s do it!” Since the earliest summer, pre-August Tuesday the 13th after the fall of the Berlin Wall occurred on July 13, 1993, this means this episode ends no more than 18 days after the beginning of “Superstition” (season 3, episode 06). Just so you know. I’m beginning to think this timeline possibly might not hold up. But bear with me. Since most episodes show no more than a few minutes from each day, and the passage of time from one scene to the next might be ambiguous in some cases, what if episodes overlapped with each other? Like scene 01 of episode y occurs on the same day as scene 03 of episode x? Maybe the characters need to change clothes, due to sweating from the heat. Maybe an entire later episode (or two) could fit between the second act and pre-credits scene of an earlier episode. Stuff like that. That could actually explain the full moon that we see throughout the series. I’m now entirely convinced I’ve put about a thousand times more thought into this than the writers did. Heck, I’ve tried to tackle the timelines of “Jem” and “Saved by the Bell”.

Holy shit, where was I? Oh, yeah, Melody says they never get to spend Christmas together. Buddy adds Hanukkah. Are the Ernsts Jewish, perhaps? Danny adds Geronimo’s birthday. Okay, two things. One: Geronimo was born on June 16, so, yes, they have fucking spent his birthday together. Two: Geronimo was Apache, not Hopi!

Anyway, Melody gets all sugary-sweet Christmasy and assigns Buddy to food. Buddy will whip up one of his “specialties”, which makes Danny sick just thinking about it. Look for Jake to playfully slap Buddy (his cousin) in support. Nice touch. Melody assigns Danny (the artistic one) to decorations and Jake to entertaining. Jake bullshits about reading “The Night After Christmas”. They will head “committees”, which will never come up again.

The others get butthurt over Brad hogging Charisma and not letting them ride her (Charisma, that is).

41-11-Ernst-Brad-truckThe next day (I guess), Mr. Ernst and Brad are taking a bunch of horse-related stuff to “some kind of ranch riding school down the road” that “a friend of Lucy’s” runs. A few things:

It’s “a friend of Lucy”. No need for the “‘s” to indicate possession in this case, because we already have the “of”.

The Bar None has a Toyota pick-up truck (which we’ve never seen before). I guess it makes sense that they’d have one.

There’s another ranch “down the road” from the Bar None other than the Snake Eyes. Yeah, it’s a riding school, but it’s still pretty convenient. Is the road called “Ranch Road” or something? (No, it’s Speedway Boulevard; I know.)

Lucy will be mentioned a lot in this episode, but she doesn’t appear. But that’s still better than Kyle, who’s neither seen nor mentioned. This makes the episode feel like it belongs in the “Jake-Only Era”. It if wasn’t for his appearance in the theme song, I would have forgotten about Kyle. I guess they really didn’t know what to do with him.

Anyway, Brad hands Mr. Ernst a salt lick, and…

41-12-Ernst-licksMr. Ernst seems to like it. Amusing side note: an Internet friend of mine (originally from Arizona) once compared drinking her husband’s cum to licking a salt lick.

Anyway, Mr. Ernst wants them to meet their neighbors, help them out, and maybe make a friend or two. He then makes a “definitely almost funny” joke (Brad’s words; she’s fucking awesome).

41-13-Ernst-truck41-14-truck-arrives41-15-Cindy-Ernst-BradThey soon arrive at the school, and Cindy Stone comes out to meet them. Cindy is played by Susan Sindelar. “Hey Dude” was her sole acting gig.

41-16-Buck-WayneCindy is happy for the stuff that they brought and has two guys named Buck and Wayne unload the truck. Buck is played by Jeffrey Krassow. “Hey Dude” was his sole acting gig. Wayne is played by Brent Rock. “Hey Dude” was his first acting gig. He then fell off the map for eleven years and then suddenly started acting again. He continues to act to this day. He’s also gotten some wrangling, scouting, producing, stunt, and transportation work done.

Since Lucy didn’t explain any of this to them, Cindy tells Mr. Ernst and Brad about the program, which is called “T.R.O.T.” (Therapeutic Riding of Tucson). They work primarily with handicapped kids. It’s a real organization. I assume they actually taped these scenes at T.R.O.T.’s location.

41-17-tape-damageThere’s a bit of noticeable tape damage.

41-18-kidsBrad is sad about the kids, but Cindy says they’re not sad and talks about the benefits of riding a horse.

41-19-tape-damageMore tape damage.

Brad goes to check out the school as Mr. Ernst and Cindy talk. They’ve been here about fifteen years (T.R.O.T. was founded in 1974, which means they were here for around sixteen years when the episode was taped, and this statement utterly rapes my timeline theory, but let’s just continue to call it 1993, because Cindy was rounding down anyway), but there are programs all over the country.

41-20-Brad-BobbyA kid named Bobby advises Brad to watch but not stare. Bobby is played by Garett Lewis. IMDb accidentally combines his career (which, I assume, consists solely of this episode) with that of a Garrett Lewis.

Bobby doesn’t want to ride, just watch. He tells Brad that they have “CP” (cerebral palsy). T.R.O.T. isn’t limited to serving just that group, though. They work with kids (and adults) with different kinds of disabilities. Anyway, Brad says “What a tough break.”

41-21-Brad-uncomfortableAn employee (the actor is uncredited) brings Bobby’s wheelchair over to take him to lunch. Brad didn’t realize Bobby has CP, and it makes her uncomfortable. She excuses herself and runs away. She decides to wait in the truck, which creates an awkward situation for Mr. Ernst, who excuses himself from Cindy to drive back to the Bar None.

41-22-Jake-drumsBack at the Bar None, Jake’s practicing his drumming on a bunch of junk. Why not the tubs?

41-23-Melody-abortsMelody wants to do…something to Jake but then has Danny and Buddy abort, because Brad and Mr. Ernst have returned.

We don’t hear what Brad and Mr. Ernst say, but he seems to understand the situation. Brad asks Jake what he’s doing. He’s considering doing a twenty-minute drum solo for the Christmas party. Jake informs Brad that he’s left several catalogs from “Drum World” by her bunk (they all take Visa and MasterCard) to help with gift ideas. Brad gets upset at him and sorrowfully talks about her T.R.O.T. experience. Jake gets the name of the place wrong and makes a stupid joke about kids doing wheelies in chairs.

41-24-Brad-kicksBrad rightly calls him a jerk and kicks his stupid “drum set” over. She goes off on him about being insensitive. Jake tries to deflect the blame back at her by telling her that they want her to relate to them, not to their handicap. Maybe so, but Jake was still an insensitive ass, so Brad’s still in the right. Jake mentions a friend back home that has CP. When he had a broken leg (he doesn’t elaborate on this), they had wheelchair races, and the dude would pwn his ass. Brad doesn’t know why she’s uncomfortable around disabled people and guesses maybe it’s a sense of guilt over not being disabled. Maybe, but a lot of people are uncomfortable around disabled people simply because the very reminder of disabilities makes them uncomfortable, or else they just feel a sense of sorrow for the people. Jake and Brad rib each other about disabilities and weirdness, respectively. Jake makes a dumb joke about people not getting naked in glass houses, and what the fuck does that have to do with anything?

41-25-snowballsOh, well, time for a “snowball” fight.

41-26-tape-damageAfter the commercial break (which comes very early in this episode), Brad is riding her favorite girl and takes her over to T.R.O.T.. Cindy comes by (there’s some more tape damage). We learn Bobby’s been coming for about a year but never rides, just watches. Cindy guesses he’s fascinated but still a little terrified, and she gets Brad to come over with her and say hi. Brad asks what his handicap is (didn’t she already know?); it’s cerebral palsy. Brad asks about it, and Cindy explains. Cindy also talks again about the benefits of riding and guesses Bobby will eventually do so. She opens the gate for Brad and then excuses herself to go and do work.

Brad introduces Bobby to Charisma. Bobby says Charisma smells. Brad is offended and chastises Bobby. Bobby says Charisma can’t understand him. Brad says she can sense what he’s feeling. She invites Bobby to touch her (Charisma, that is).

41-27-Bobby-pets-Charisma41-28-girls-popcornOn another day (I guess), at the Bar None, Melody is working on popcorn strings for the Christmas tree and gets on Brad’s case for eating the popcorn. Brad is surprised there’s gonna be a tree. Melody gets all Christmasy again. Brad seems to threaten to destroy the tree to prevent the party from occurring. Melody gets on Brad’s case for not “overflowing with the Christmas spirit”. Brad points out that it’s fucking July and 105 fucking degrees in the shade. She also makes a joke about how “Santa Claus is at home with his air conditioning set on tundra”, but she’s not the least bit humorous about it. We also learn the snowballs were from the ranch’s refrigerator. Melody asks “Miss Scrooge” for her point. Brad’s never been much of a Christmas person. Her parents were always away, traveling, and Brad would “always be stuck with one of [her] aunts, being force-fed fruitcake” (which she makes Melody assure her that there won’t be any of). There’ll be “just the usual staff and maybe some guests”. So…Melody’s doing this for the staff first – with selected guests as an afterthought? Brad goes off on Christmas being “harder” because of fun, food, joy, ho-ho-hoing, and guys using fistfuls of mistletoe to steal kisses (which reminds Melody to add mistletoe). Brad accepts the Christmas in July party as a “pleasant diversion” but refuses to string popcorn, preferring to read a magazine.

41-29-Buddy-schemeBuddy comes by with a scheme to get money for the Christmas party. Buddy’s idea is to use their wagon (which I don’t think we’ve ever seen) as the “sleigh” and borrow Charisma.

41-30-Brad-chokes-BuddyBrad threatens to choke Buddy to death. Melody stops her. Brad is protective of Charisma and doesn’t want her pulling a wagon or being ridden by anyone else. After a bit more discussion about it, Buddy reveals they decided to go with reindeer:

41-31-Danny-Jake-reindeerDanny and Jake argue over who gets to be Rudolph. Buddy takes them away to get another red nose, so they can both play Rudolph. Danny agrees but wants to lead the sleigh. Melody and Brad call them fruitcakes.

41-32-Brad-BobbyOn another day (I guess), Brad is hanging out with Bobby. They banter about whether Charisma likes him or just the apples that he feeds her. Brad playfully “hits” Bobby, who feigns being hurt to make her worry. She doesn’t feel as upset as I’d be if someone did that to me. Brad calls him “Bob”.

41-33-Cindy-BobbyCindy comes by and makes a joke about beating the kids up once per month to keep them from getting too cocky. She also gives Bobby a noogie. Gah, I fucking hate noogies. Once, a customer tried to get me to smile by getting up in my face (matching my head movements) with her tongue stuck out. When that failed, she gave me a noogie. I don’t know what kept me from hitting her. Then she blamed me, saying I shouldn’t be in customer service if I don’t know how to interact with the customers. Fuck that old bitch.

Anyway, Brad seems a bit displeased about the “comedians”. Bobby wants to ride Charisma. Brad is unsure. Cindy asks for information. Charisma is nine years old, quiet, sound, and kind. Cindy asks Brad what she thinks. Brad agrees to it.

41-34-Bobby-rides-Charisma41-35-Bobby-rides-Charisma-2Bobby tells Brad that he has four good legs now.

41-36-Brad-happyBrad agrees.

41-37-partyOn another day (I guess), the Christmas Pixie leads the rest of the main teen characters (except Kyle; fuck him) and random extras in a rousing rendition of “Deck the Halls” in front of the Christmas cactus.

41-38-party-2I’m really loving Betty’s leopard pants. I want a pair.

Brad praises the party and asks Melody about her cowboy hat. Melody had considered wearing it but ultimately decided on glitter over sophistication. Melody points out the tinsel that she’s wearing in her hair, and Brad says it’s attractive.

41-39-Danny-warnsBuddy brings by his “Christmas Surprise” for the girls to try, but Danny silently warns them against it. Too late for Melody, though:

41-40-Melody-burningThe “traditional Christmas colors of red and green” are sour chili and hot guacamole. I love how Danny just has a glass of punch or whatever at the ready and casually hands it to Melody.

Brad passes on the “Christmas Surprise” on the basis that her religious beliefs prevent her from eating anything with the word “guac”. Y’know what? I wanna try that shit. I love spicy food. Hell, I might make some of it someday.

41-41-Jake-secondsNaturally, Jake, being the “weird” one, comes by for seconds. Betty is the Punch Bitch at this party (such is the burden of anyone that’s not in the opening credits – nor the closing credits), so Danny takes her entire tray (at least, he asks her first).

Y’know, this series is really fucking illogical when it comes to crediting its guest actors. Two guys that walk past the camera in the background get credited, because…their characters were named? I guess. But neither the T.R.O.T. employee (whether real or fictional) that calls Bobby to lunch nor Betty, a recurring staff member, get credited. What the fucking hell, show?

Danny proposes a special Christmas toast that his father taught him when he was just a little kid (his father was very open-minded when large, festive meals were involved):

41-42-toast“To good friends, good food. Good night.”

Brad says it’s a short toast. Danny explains his father usually dozed off after the first turkey (yeah).

Melody feels like she’s in a movie like “Miracle on 34th Street” (the audio’s a bit rough when she says this), but then…

41-43-Ernst-SantaBrad declares it just turned into “Halloween, Part 5” (which isn’t the film’s title; then again, the filmmakers were inconsistent with the title anyway). Why that specific movie?

Anyway, Mr. Ernst is so dumb that he bellows “Ha, ha, ha!” instead of “Ho, ho, ho!”, and Jake has to correct him on “the traditional Santa expression of merriment”. However, Mr. Ernst still fails, because the bag is seemingly too heavy for him, and so…

41-44-Ernst-fallsLater, the main teens (except Kyle; fuck him) open their presents.

41-45-picturesBrad seemingly gave her friends pictures of herself. She actually gave them picture frames to use as they wish; she just hates “those ugly pictures of strangers”. Melody wants to keep it “right on her bunk”. Really? Why not on a night stand?

41-46-Buddy-pictureJake shares a picture from his wallet: Buddy as a baby. Buddy is surprised Jake keeps a picture of him in his wallet, but Jake is surprised the others don’t. So, so weird.

41-47-Jake-jeansJake got new jeans. Danny and Buddy shredded them themselves. Danny did the front, and Buddy did the back. Melody is surprised. Brad flirts with Jake, telling him to try them on. Jake will try them on later if Brad’s good. Jake thanks them and remarks Christmas is a “pretty holey holiday”.

41-48-girls-durrrh41-49-starsJake passes out envelopes to everyone. When he gets to Brad, there’s some kind of banter between them that I can’t understand. Anyway, each of them has a star named after them “in a galaxy far, far away”. Buddy asks if they’re really from NASA. Jake says they’re from MASA (the Minneapolis Association for Star Assignments, which isn’t a real organization as far as I can tell). Anyway, yes, NASA does exist in this universe. Space Agency isn’t a stand-in; it’s a competitor or something.

After some banter, they get to Melody’s present to Brad. Brad is excited, loving presents.

41-50-Brad-hatMelody gives Brad her cowboy hat. Brad refuses, but Melody wants her to have it. Thoughtful gift – if a tad awkward. Imagine Betty Cooper saving up for an expensive article of clothing and then giving it to her bestie, rich girl Veronica Lodge, who could easily afford a dozen of them. What would you say to something like that?

41-51-Brad-hat-2Brad wishes them a Merry Christmas, and the others join in.

41-52-Ernst-lawnmowerThe pre-credits scene at the end has Mr. Ernst trying to figure out the balance of oil and gas to put in the lawn mower. He makes it sounds like he’s putting both in the same tank. Yeah, he’s gonna fuck it up bad.

41-53-Danny-helpsLuckily, Danny comes by to help him.

41-54-Ernst-MelodyMelody comes by, asking Mr. Ernst if he knows where Brad is. Brad usually spends her day off by the pool, but she’s not there. Jake mentions he hasn’t seen Charisma around either. Melody misinterprets Mr. Ernst’s wording as Charisma dying and going to “Horse Heaven”. Brad had asked him to not mention it to anybody, but she’s at T.R.O.T. right now, and she’s decided to donate Charisma to them (Mr. Ernst guesses Brad was inspired by Melody’s gift) and volunteer part-time at T.R.O.T.. That’s really amazing. However, I admit I have mixed feeling about it (donating Charisma, not volunteering). Brad gave them an amazing gift, but she also gave them her beloved friend. I don’t agree with donating pets unless you really can’t care for them any longer. Your pet is part of your family. Love and cherish your pets. Take care of them. Sacrifice your own wants to that end if need be. But don’t just pass your pets along to someone else. Just the opinion of a schmuck writing a blog, but it’s something that I feel strongly about.

41-55-Brad41-56-Brad-2So ends another day at the Bar None.

The closing credits feature a calming, beautiful version of the theme music. There is no coyote howl. The episode runs a tad shorter than the others (by probably around 10-15 seconds), and so the credits run a little longer than usual.

This episode was very nice. We learn a lot about Brad, past and present, and she goes through some character growth. As another “very special episode” (and a bit of an advertisement for T.R.O.T.), it certainly could have been heavy-handed, but it managed to avoid it.

Countdown to the Second Coming of Ted: 5